Sewisfaction is an independent fabric and sewing studio focused on bringing you beautiful dressmaking fabrics, inspiring sewing patterns and unique haberdashery products. We’re also spreading the joy of sewing at our dressmaking classes aimed at complete beginners through to more advanced sewists.
It’s Kathy back with another dress! This time I am trying a Chalk and Notch pattern for the first time – The Fringe Dress. This year as part of my #2018makenine pledge, I am trying to use nine sewing patterns from independent companies that I have never used before. This is the fourth pattern made now from that list, so I am slowly working my way through them.
I cannot resist a cute floral fabric, so when I saw the arrival of this adorable Aqua Zantelle Viscose crepe I knew that I wanted to make a dress with it! Viscose does have a tendency to shrink a little in the pre-wash so make sure that you allow for this, also it is worth noting that it is fairly slippery to sew with and moves around a little, so may be a fabric more suitable for someone who has some sewing experience under their belt. That said, it is a stunning fabric, the colour is bright and happy and the surface of the fabric has an interesting natural slubbed texture to it.
This dress pattern has different neckline, sleeve and belt tie variations and I opted to make view A which has a v-neck button front and simple sleeves with a cute button up tab feature. It looks a little like a shirt dress. Both views have a shaped hem with a gathered skirt, but I felt that I wanted a horizontal hem and so cut my skirt pieces out with a level hem.
I found the sizing a little challenging. My body measurements put me at a Chalk and Notch size 10, but the finished garment measurements look like a size 6 would be a good finished fit. I made up a size 6, but it still feels roomy ( I can get it on and off over my head without undoing the buttons), and the belt tie at the back is tied as tight as it can go. Next time I will size down.
I enjoyed making the pattern very much, clear written instructions are accompanied by good line drawings, and although it’s not the quickest dress I have ever made, it is straightforward and comes together nicely. The front bodice fastens with 3 buttons, and you will need a button for each sleeve tab. The buttons that I chose have a natural look – rather like coconut shell, and they pick up the golden colours in the fabric perfectly. I used ¾” buttons for the bodice front and used smaller ½” ones for the sleeve tabs.
The skirt has a really subtle gather – barely none at all, and I like this. I’m glad that I chose to make the hem horizontal rather than the shaped hem, as I know I will get more wear out of this style. I’m kind of thinking that I might have left the length a little too long, and will perhaps shorten it a tad. Hmmm.. not sure. Also can we just take a moment to appreciate that it is a dress with pockets! Oh yes!
All in all, it’s a great dress, made all the more pretty by using this colourful floral fabric. I am so looking forward to getting lots of wear out of this during the Summer months, warmer temperatures permitting. Thank you so very much to Sheona for providing me with the fabric to sew up such a cute dress, I had a great time making it!
This week’s vlog has been a little delayed as Sheona is poorly this week – but if you haven’t seen it already, Sheona has been chatting about what it has been like in her first year running Sewisfaction. It’s a long vlog but it covers the Sewisfaction journey so far, including the highs, lows and learnings. Grab a cuppa and have a watch – don’t forget to subscribe to our channel so you can be part of our adventures!
Sewisfaction One Year On; My first year running a fabric and sewing business! - YouTube
I have a little bit of a confession to make. I have been sewing for nearly 10 years now, and I could count on one hand the number of trousers I have made! I think the fitting issue has always scared me just a little bit too much. But this year’s Me Made May challenge made me realise how I really ought to get over my fear and try and add some trousers to my handmade wardrobe. Enter the Eleonore Pull-On Jeans from Jalie Patterns.
I had seen these jeans popping up numerous times on Instagram and always wanted to give them a go. They are nearly identical in style to a pull-on jean/jegging that H&M do which I pretty much live in (I own 3 colours ways), so I thought it would be amazing to be able to recreate them.
I decided it would probably be wise to sew up a toile first, in order to tackle the dreaded trouser fitting issue, so that’s what I did. They came together really quickly and I have to say, the toile fitted nearly perfectly on the first go! But I did have some horizontal lines under my bum and I felt the crotch was a little high as well. With a little bit of searching (namely this post on the Closet Case Patterns blog– so helpful!) I decided I needed to do a low bum adjustment (lol, not a surprise!) and scoop out the seat curve slightly. So I made sure to do that on the final garment.
Another issue I had was with the fit on the legs. I felt they were a bit too loose. I also had a lot of wrinkles behind my knees (which I can’t find any fitting guidance to at all). To be honest, I think this is the style of the jeans. They are definitely a straight cut, rather than skinny. I did go back and forward about keeping them straight, but apparently I just love my skinny jeans! So I tapered them in to be totally form-fitting. This also helped with the knee wrinkling a little bit.
The fit around the hips and waist is spot on! Honestly, I am absolutely delighted with the fit. The waistband comes up slightly higher than I thought they would, which is actually great because it holds in my ‘muffin top’ (for want of a better expression)! They still sit slightly below the bellybutton.
The Eleonore pull-on jeans are constructed pretty similarly to regular jeans, with copious amounts of topstitching (I just used my regular thread though). The main difference is that the pockets and fly are all faux, and of course the waistband is elastic. The faux fly is very easy but there is a little bit of tricky sewing getting the faux pocket pieces in. It’s not particularly difficult, it just requires slow and careful sewing (and I may have been holding my breath while doing so…). But oh my goodness, it is so satisfying once it’s done! Saying that, you can actually buy an ‘add on’ pattern piece for real front pockets. I think I will go ahead and get it because I will definitely be making this pattern again and it would be nice to have real pockets.
The way the waistband is constructed was really interesting. The elastic is sewn on to the lower half of the waistband piece with a zig-zag stitch, without being stretched. The upper part of the waistband is then folded over the elastic (thus encasing it) and this is the outer side. So the elastic is totally secure and there is absolutely no chance of it flipping over (one of my pet-peeves when it comes to elasticated waistbands). And the stitching is on the inside, leaving the outside beautifully smooth.
That may have been as clear as mud, sorry! It’s quite hard to explain. But one of the best things about this pattern, is there is a free video tutorialfor the entire construction on YouTube! I pretty much followed along with the video and paid no attention to the written instructions which came with the pattern (they are actually quite sparse).
Turquoise Fabric Of Dreams
I made up the final Eleonore jeans in the most amazing turquoise stretch twill from Sewisfaction. It’s hard for the camera to do this fabric justice. In these photos, and on the Sewisfaction shop page, the fabric comes across more as a bright light blue, but there is definitely a tiny bit of green to it to tip it into the turquoise category. It is 20% stretch, which is what the Eleonore pattern requires.
The fabric sewed up really well and was a dream to work with. It does fray a bit, so having an overlocker was a god-send (I think all twill fabric frays though). Having worn my jeans out and about for a day, they have stretched a bit, so it might be a good idea to maybe make your jeans (or whatever you are sewing up) just a touch tighter to compensate for this. A run through the wash though and I’m pretty sure they will be back to their original fit.
The Low Down
I am completely and utterly head over heels in love with my new bright turquoise jeans! The only problem now is that I don’t actually have very many things in my wardrobe that coordinates with them. Not to worry, I picked up thesetwo beauties from Sewisfacion which both pair really well and I plan on whipping up a couple of tops (I see they are both out of stock now, but I also have this fab parrot fabric which goes perfectly too!)
As for the Eleanore pattern? I see myself going on a little bit of jeans-making binge soon! I’ve already pulled out a couple of stretch cottons and denims from my stash and they’ll be heading for the pre-wash soon!!
We are so delighted to announce the inaugural Big Summer Stitch Up taking place on Saturday 14th July 2018 – 11am to 4pm. Come and join lots of other sewing lovers for what we hope will be the South East’s biggest free-to-attend Sewing Meet Up.
As well as meeting and chatting to other sewing lovers, we’ll have lots of other exciting things happening through out the day so here’s all the info – we hope you’ll come along and join us!
What is The Big Summer Stitch Up?
It’s a celebration of all things sewing & dressmaking and a chance for us sewists to get together, meet each other, chat as well as look at lovely fabrics and show off your best handmade outfit. We’ll have some sewing related stands (more details to be released soon) and lots more. Here are just a few things we’ve got happening on the day;
BBQ & Pimms Bar
Best Dressed Competition (Handmade of course!)
A brilliant raffle with lots of amazing prizes
Demos from some of our brilliant craft teachers
Of course there’ll also be lots of fabric stroking opportunities upstairs at Sewisfaction and at some of the special stands. Plus we’re based in the beautiful Holme Grange Craft Village, a quaint independent shopping village with lots of unique shops and crafts, from pottery painting to a handmade gift shop, glass fusing to vintage and upcycled furniture. We’ve also got a yummy cafe which serves food, drinks and amazing cakes throughout the day.
Where are you based and how do I get there?
We’re based at Holme Grange Craft Village in Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3AW. Sewisfaction is based upstairs and will be a hive of activity on the day, and there’ll be other things going on throughout the village. There is ample free parking and we’re very easy to get to from both the M4 and M3 and we’re 5 minutes from Wokingham Train Station in a cab. You can find us on Google Maps here.
I really want to come but I don’t know anyone!
Please don’t worry! Sewing can be a fairly solitary hobby at times which is why it is so great to get out and meet people at these events and everyone is usually super friendly and happy to chat, and remember lots of other people come on their own too. Why not join our Facebook group and post in there to see if anyone else is coming from near you or wants to meet up on the day. Also, Sheona and the Sewisfaction team will be available all day and are so looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible. If you’re on your own make sure to pop in and see us first and we have a catch up!
Do I need to register?
You can just turn up on the day, but it would really help us if you could register in advance so we have an idea of how many people to expect – this’ll help us make sure the fizz is well stocked and we’ve got enough goodies for you! You can register on Eventbrite here, it’s completely free.
We can’t wait to see you at The Big Summer Stitch Up!
This week I’m reviewing the new Tilly and the Button’s book Stretch; make yourself comfortable sewing with knits by Tilly Walnes. I’ll give you a full overview of the book and my thoughts, show you some of the makes I’ve made from the book so far and also give you some fabric suggestions for some of the patterns in the book, which would also be suitable for lots of other jersey makes. I hope you find it useful!
A review of Stretch by Tilly and the Buttons! Including what I've sewn & fabric suggestions... - YouTube
I’ll avoid the inevitable cliches about how fast the year is going and instead rejoice that one of my favourite sewing challenges has arrived again!
Me Made May or #MMM18 on social media, is a sewing challenge run by blogger and dressmaking whizz Zoe of So, Zo What do you know? The idea is a simple one, you make a pledge to wear handmade in May. Many people choose to challenge themselves to wear handmade every single day, others a couple of times a week. The beauty of the challenge is that other than making your pledge, you don’t have any strict rules to stick to, you can interpret it however you like.
If you’re a beginner sewer you might be pledging to just wear some of your me-mades rather than worrying about whether they’re perfect. Those who’ve been sewing a long time may pledge to wear completely handmade outfits every day – it’s totally up to you, it’s meant to stretch you a little bit so use your imagination and sign up on Zoe’s blog here.
I’ll be participating on Instagram, either in Stories or on the grid and will try and post weekly round-ups on here – I always find I learn quite a lot about my sewing and the gaps in my wardrobe so am hoping this year will be the same.
‘I, Sheona @sewisfaction, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear a me-made garment every day and not repeat any item more than 3 times. I also pledge to finish my current in progress garments by the end of the month (currently a Kew Skirt, Kalle Shirt & Rosa Shirtdress) ofMay 2018′
This week is Fashion Revolution Week, coinciding with the tragic collapse of the the Rana Plaza factory. The collapse killed 1138 people and injured many more on 24th April 2013, the vast majority of whom were garment workers for well known High Street fashion retailers.
Fashion Revolution describe the movement as pro-fashion, wanting to see it as a force for good. Featured everywhere from The Guardian to Vogue this week, the campaign hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes has been a force to be reckoned with on social media, with people discussing how positive a move away from fast fashion to an ethical, sustainable industry can benefit everyone.
How though, when you make most of your clothes yourself, can you participate? This is something I’ve been asking myself more often over the last few months, not only as a maker but as the owner of a fabric shop. I feel a growing sense of responsibility on a personal level and from a business perspective – I’m very conscious that just sewing our own clothes isn’t a cure all, but it is a brilliant starting point to build upon. The below are a mixture of personal and business goals that I’m aiming to continue to develop over the coming months and years.
MAKE WITH LOVE, TO LAST
If you’d suggested hand sewing the hem on a circle skirt to me a few years ago, you would’ve laughed at my dour face – why do that when I can whiz it through the machine in 2 minutes? The fact that I spent over two hours a few days ago hand-stitching not only a full hem but an entire waistband is pretty demonstrative of how my attitude has changed.
If I am going to put any time at all into making something, I want it to be finshed to the best possible standard, so that every time I wear it (heck every time I look at it) I feel proud and love wearing it. The pieces I make with care, finish properly and enjoy wearing are the ones I will keep in my wardrobe for as long as possible. I enjoy sewing french seams and using beautiful quality fabrics, and I am learning to embrace slow sewing – even though I now have less time than ever!
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy whizzing something up on my overlocker, but they’ll predominantly be high quality knits, properly finished and worn again and again and again. Quick and simple doesn’t mean cheap and disposable.
To prolong the life of my clothes, I wash almost everything on a 30 degree wash and advise our customers to do the same where possible.
REFASHION & RECYCLE
Repairing a dropped hem, turning some jeans into shorts, a bit of visible mending; all simple but effective ways to get more wear from our wardrobes. For me, I am going to make sure I get through my work in progress pile and see what can be refashioned from those makes that really don’t fit or no longer have a place in my life. It could be another garment, or as the case with a lovely Liberty skirt one of my students bought in to show me, it could become a tote bag or gift for someone. If there’s really nothing that can be done to save or repurpose it, it’ll go in the charity bag to hopefully find a new home.
We’re focussing more on recycling in the shop and studio too. Every last scrap of fabric gets put in the scraps bin and people can fill a bag with as much as they like – it’s popular with quilters, crafters and schools but there’s definitely more we can do here – it’s easy for bits of fabric to creep into our main waste and we’re going to work really hard to make sure we’re reducing our contribution to textile landfill.
When the answer to #whomademyclothes is “I did”, then the next logical question has to be who made my fabric? As a business I strive to ensure we work with reputable suppliers and source ethically produced fabrics.
Predominantly our fabrics are manufactured in Europe and the US with a smaller percentage coming from the Far East – usually Japan, where the ethical treatment and standards for garment workers tends to be higher. #whomademyfabric isn’t an easy question to answer, because it depends on how long the supply chain is and how much information we’re able to access, but it is something I ask of all our suppliers and am trying to ensure we know the answer most of the time. Simply stocking an organic cotton for example, doesn’t mean it’s been ethically produced – just that certain chemicals aren’t used in it’s growth or production. We’ll continue to make sure we’re asking the question and being as frank and transparent as possible with our customers.
EDUCATE & ENCOURAGE
Spreading the joy of sewing is something I am obviously passionate about and teaching more and more people how to sew is key to bringing this somewhat neglected skill back to the forefront of ours and future generations. Seeing friends who have never sewn before take an interest in learning one end of a sewing machine from another is beyond encouraging and watching children master skills they’d never even thought of before is a selfish joy, but one that I hope continuous to spread. Perhaps we could all invite a friend over and help them get to grips with a sewing machine? It’s sure to be a good giggle if nothing else!
Apparently 80% of global garment workers are women, many of them underpaid and poorly treated. My hope is that Sewisfaction will continue to champion women, working with a growing group of talented, amazing women who are all treated fairly and paid well so that collectively we can have some impact no matter how small.
We are far from perfect, there are lots of ways we can do more and I know it’s something I want to keep learning about and trying to improve wherever we can. Like anything, small changes make a big difference. Is the Fashion Revolution something you’re conscious of? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear what you’re doing and any suggestions you have for us.